"That night, I dreamed about the Scarlet Man. He stood before me with his hand extended, just as he had with Miss K. Purple light swirled around Him, Aether, I think it was called . . . though I couldn't remember how I knew that word.
"I reached for His hand in my dream, however, before I had grasped it, His face faded away . . . to be replaced by another, a stranger. . ."
My eyes flew open as a thick, gloved hand clasped over my mouth. The strange face I saw in my dream was hanging onto my ladder outside my bunk. Hands I couldn't see tied my wrists and ankles together. The stranger bound a cloth over my mouth and hoisted me over his shoulder to descend the long ladder.
As we climbed down, I saw several other girls bound and gagged. They attempted to scream through their bindings, however, they barely made a sound.
Where is the guard? I wondered, How did these men get here?
I soon discovered the answers to those questions.
The five girls taken, myself included, were carried past the guard station. I glanced up briefly to see our night guard bound and gagged as we were. There was no alert the strangers had invaded the Fire Tech Factory, the Managers would know eventually . . . but not soon enough to prevent it. It was a strange feeling, being taken from a life of abuse into something completely unknown. I was frightened, and yet . . . I was excited at the very same time.
Our kidnappers had a secret tunnel, hidden by a pile of scrap. They hauled us five down into it and carried us through the black. I could hear the girls screaming in fear, whimpering, gasping, all muffled through their gags.
When we came to the end of the tunnel, a great airship waited for us. It was unlike any airship I'd ever assembled in the factory. This one had green smoke coming from it.
Green smoke . . . Fog
Our kidnappers opened the door to the great airship and threw us all inside. We tumbled around for a while, but soon came to a stop. The space we found ourselves in was dimly lit by green lamps. There were five boys already inside, also bound and gagged.
The strangers closed the heavy door and marched out of the room, shutting the heavy metal door behind them. We sat there for a while, wondering what would become of us, when the metal door opened again, and a gruff, yet friendly face appeared.
"It won't be long," he said in a cheerful voice, "Aethasia isn't so bad, much better then these parts."
The ten of us stared at him in silence, confused by his behavior, and fearful of his plans. The stranger stepped closer to me and ripped off my gag. "You seem like the silent type," he said, "that's better for you then you know." he winked at and crossed his arms.
"You don't look Emberlin, missy," he stated, examining my smoke-white hair and deep brown skin, "Come to think of it, I've never seen a look like yours before. Where do you come from?"
I looked away, wishing he had chosen someone else to talk to.
"Eh? Have nothing to say?" he asked, slightly annoyed.
"Se Camph!" stated one of the other girls through her gag.
The stranger raised an eyebrow and pulled down the girl's gag. The girl, Miss R, breathed out and spat out some loose strands of hair before restating,
"She can't, Miss S is mute, she's never said a word in her life!"
The stranger arched an eyebrow, "Is that so?" he said, turning to face me.
I glared at my boots and let out a soundless huff of irritation, No thank you! I thought bitterly to Miss R.
"That might be even better," said the stranger, a strange grin spreading across his face, "Miss S, eh? You're out of the factory now, missy." He crossed his arms, still baring that disturbing grin, "We'll call you Silence, and I think you have the makings of a great thief already!"